Start with fresh, room temperature butter
Compose your flavors
Herbs, spices, aromatics: Ginger, shallots, garlic, scallion, fresh herbs, cracked or ground spices, citrus zests just scratch the surface. Herbs should be very dry before mincing them and adding them to the butter.
Salt: Though you may prefer your plain butter unsalted, a little fine sea salt really helps bring out the flavor of all the ingredients in a compound butter.
Acid: Vinegar or citrus juice adds balance to the mix. Blend in a few drops at a time.
A touch of sweetness: Sweet compound butters, with a bit of honey or superfine sugar, are delicious on warm breads and waffles. They can also be great on savory dishes, like a sage and honey butter on fish.
Wild card flavors: There are lots of other additions that are worth experimenting with—anchovy paste, dried fruit, cocoa, green tea powder, various extracts, etc.
Wrap the butter up tightly
Plus, having some compound butter handy for a last-minute dinner saves you prep work and dish-washing.
I licked the plate clean after eating these seared scallops with a compound butter of roasted garlic, vanilla bean, a few drops of bourbon (that the vanilla had soaked in), and salt. This was my favorite compound butter of the week.
A few compound butter combinations...
On asparagus, fiddlehead ferns, and other springtime veggies: minced shallots macerated in sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt.
For my kids: cinnamon and superfine sugar swirl. They’ll eat it on just about anything.